Hundreds of municipalities across the country support their expenses through traffic stops and court costs. Local towns and cities often bake this income into the yearly finances, making drivers the ones that bear much of the burden.
Georgia is one of the most egregious offenders, relying heavily on fines and fees collection to make up more than 20% of revenue for over 50 local entities across the state. That number jumps to over 50% of funding for 13 areas. If the police pull you over for a traffic violation, you’ll likely have to help balance the local budget.
Fines are the punitive costs for breaking the law, and they’ve seen a national increase over the last few years. But for Georgia, the real money is in the fees. There are often over a dozen fees associated with the process that follows a traffic violation, and the money helps support the budget of programs like the police supplemental retirement fund. One probate judge in Georgia even alleged that a small city opened a new police department for the sole purpose of paying off outstanding debts for sewer services.
Footing the bill
Traffic violations are civil infractions in many places across the country, but that’s not the case in Georgia. Breaking traffic laws is generally a criminal misdemeanor in Habersham County, with the possibility for high and aggravated status, which allows judges to order up to $5,000 in fines. You could also face fees associated with court appearances, probation meetings and license reinstatement.
When an officer writes you a ticket in Georgia, the local government may be expecting you to help pay its way. Being prepared for your day in court could be crucial to avoid paying toward the local balance sheets.